John Ruberry, the Marathon Pundit, just did some actual reporting about the veterans’ scholarship scandle at the University of Illinois.
This didn’t sound like much of a story when I first heard about it. The University of Illinois had offered 110 scholarships to Illinois veterans for the night MBA program in downtown Chicago. A bunch of veterans were accepted and received confirmation letters. Later, however, the University cancelled a lot of those scholarships, accepting only 37 of them.
Some people seemed to be trying to spin this into an example of anti-military attitudes in academia, but having worked at a university for a while, it sounded to me like a typical foul-up. The academic side of academia works best when it is very decentralized, with each department making staffing and curriculum decisions on its own. The administrative work, however, requires rigorous standards and careful attention to detail, and departments get themselves into trouble when they try to cut corners. It sounded like the department that runs the night MBA program had promised something that the rules wouldn’t allow it to deliver.
Now that John Ruberry has delved into the story a bit, including an interview with one of the principles, it’s sounding a lot shadier than I thought:
What happened next is shocking. Ghosh, DeBrock, Admissions Dean Sandy Frank and Ikenberry decided to take matters into their own hands. So they got a copy of the admissions database from the Executive MBA program, studied it, and in an ex post facto manner, put in new procedural deadlines for the completion of application materials in order to reduce the number of military veterans in the program.
They basically looked at military candidates’ application data and came up with new deadlines that they knew military candidates hadn’t met. Sort of like betting on a horse a couple days after the race…or moving the goalpoast before a field goal attempt.
Read the whole thing.